SD69 (Qualicum)’s school board is seeking the ability for it, and all other B.C. school boards, to run deficits in their annual budgets. — Adam Kveton Photo

SD69 (Qualicum)’s school board is seeking the ability for it, and all other B.C. school boards, to run deficits in their annual budgets. — Adam Kveton Photo

SD69 trustees seek ability to run deficits

Letter sent to Min. of Ed. requesting change to School Act

School districts in B.C. are being denied opportunities to spend money to make money — and to help kids learn — when those investments take more than a year to pay off.

That’s the view of the School District 69 (Qualicum) school board, which has sent a letter to the B.C. ministers of education and finance proposing a change to the School Act that would allow school boards to run deficits in their annual budgets.

The proposal was initially part of a wider proposal to change the School Act, which was submitted by SD69’s previous board in 2014. The deficit proposal was brought up again by trustee and vice-chair Julie Austin at the board’s Oct. 24 meeting.

The letter to the ministers was sent in early November.

“It’s never made a whole lot of sense to budget on an annual basis,” Austin said in an interview after the board’s Nov. 28 meeting.

That’s because the stipulation in the School Act that a school district’s estimated yearly expenditures must not exceed estimated revenues means a loss of opportunity when it comes to investments that take more than a year to pay off, she said.

The board provided an example in its letter to the ministers:

“Our board was presented with a proposal from our trades teachers to buy a gutted residence in an expanding neighbourhood very near one of our high schools,” reads the letter. “This project would have greatly benefitted our trades programs, computer design classes, math classes, etc., as the house would be finished by the local high school students.

“The house would then have been sold, most likely at a profit. In order to have created this opportunity for our students the board had to act quickly and finance the project with our surplus. Unfortunately, the surplus was needed that year to balance the budget and the board was unable to consider the proposal.”

Austin’s motion to send the letter didn’t pass without some concern.

“As soon as I hear ‘deficit,’ the hair stands up on the back of my head,” Trustee Barry Kurland said, adding, “I just think it’s a bad road to go down.”

Nonetheless, the motion was carried.

With the Ministry of Education currently undergoing a funding review, Austin said she hoped the timing would be right for consideration of the proposal.

“I think people recognize that it makes sense. It’s just getting them to make that extra step,” Austin said.

Even if the government doesn’t allow deficits, she said, the proposal might at least bring attention to the problem and get the government to consider other potential options for addressing it.

Send news tips to:

adam.kveton@pqbnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Adam Walker visits the VI Free Daily/PQB News studios. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Adam Walker eager to get to work as Parksville-Qualicum MLA

Podcast: Longtime Qualicum Beach resident discusses politics, much more

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

(File photo)
Parksville Qualicum Beach crime report: Crooks hit businesses, vehicles

Oceanside RCMP received 288 complaints in one-week period

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read